Volume 11, No. 4 
October 2007

  Carl Stoll

  Front Page  
Select one of the previous 41 issues.


Index 1997-2007

TJ Interactive: Translation Journal Blog

  Translator Profiles
On the Importance of Schmoozing
by Alexandra Russsell-Bitting
Standing Tall in the Profession: Interview with Alexandra Russell-Bitting
by Verónica Albin

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee

  Translators Around the World
Maltese Translation in Transition
by Janet Mallia

  TJ Cartoon
Great Moments in Languages — Gift from Heaven
by Ted Crump

  Translation Theory
Synonymy in Translation
by Said M. Shiyab, Ph.D.

  Translation Nuts and Bolts
Romance Gender Benders: Gender of Nouns in the Romance languages
by Carl Stoll

  Legal Translation
El diccionario jurídico español-árabe como herramienta útil para la traducción en el ámbito del Derecho y la mediación intercultural
Aguessim El Ghazouani Abdellatif

  Book Review
Blue Lines on Black Ink: A Look at a New Book on Censorship and Translation
by Verónica Albin
A Non-Native User's Perspective of Corpus-Based Dictionaries of English and French
by Estela Carvalho
Hey, counsel, you've plagiarized my book!
by Danilo Nogueira
Engenheiros do Destino/Engineers of Fate de/by José Lamensdorf
Dayse Batista

  Translator Education
How New Technologies Improve Translation Pedagogy
by María José Varela

  Arts & Entertainment
A to Z of Screenplay Translation
by Alireza Ameri

Eileen Chang's Translation of The Golden Cangue
by Deng Jing

  Translators' Tools
Creating the Ideal Word Processing Environment in Translation Environment Tools
by Jost Zetzsche
Manual MT Post-editing: “if it's not broken, don't fix it!”
by Rafael Guzmán
Linguoc LexTerm: una herramienta de extracción automática de terminología gratuita
Antoni Oliver, Mercè Vázquez, Joaquim Moré
Translators’ Emporium

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor
Translators’ Best Websites
by Gabe Bokor

Translators' Events

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies
  Translation Journal

Nuts & Bolts

Romance Gender Benders:

Gender of Nouns in the Romance languages

by Carl Stoll


he purpose of this list is to aid learners of a second Romance language avoid gender confusions with their first Romance language. Mutatis mutandis, the same goes for third and fourth languages. The list covers Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian, in geographical order from west to east on the map of Europe. The purpose is didactic, so logical elegance is mostly sacrificed to practical considerations.

This list tries to tread the narrow line between completeness and prolixity. I have generally avoided the obscure. Nonetheless, I am certain to have omitted important items. This is inevitable, since there is no foolproof way to detect gender differences among cognates.

The English equivalents are very succinct, and often fail to explain all meanings.

The following list is a succession of tetrads. An example of a tetrad is:

a calma la calma le calme la calma tranquillitas calm, stillness

It is called a tetrad ("group of four") because only 4 languages are at issue here; Latin and English are presented merely as explanatory elements. The four nouns in each tetrad are equivalents, that is to say synonyms of each other. As a rule they are also cognates of one another.

This list contains about two hundred tetrads.

The tetrads are grouped by heading, which shows the idealized form or model of the tetrads included. The above tetrad is to be found under the heading FFMF, which means that the cognate in question is masc. in French and fem. in Port., Span. & Ital.

The four nouns in each tetrad are equivalents or almost equivalents, that is to say synonyms, and generally they are also cognates of one another. Sometimes there is no equivalent cognate. Then special rules apply:

The letter X instead of an M or F in a heading indicates that there is no commonly used equivalent cognate in the language in question. For example, the tetrad

[tâmara] el dátil la datte il dattero dactylus date (fruit)

has form XMFM. The X means that in Port. there is no commonly used derivative of Lat. dactylus. Note that the Port. equivalent of dactylus is between brackets to denote that it is not a cognate of the other elements.

In such cases the non-equivalent or false cognate may be listed, but underlined to show it is not equivalent to the other cognates.

The letter A (for "ambiguous") is inserted into a heading when a word has ambiguous gender. For example, the tetrad

o mar el/la mar la mer il mare mare (n) sea

is MAFM; the A indicates that in Span. the derivative of mare can be either masc. or fem.

intervenção (f) intervención (f) intervention intervento (m)

intervenzione (f)
interventus (m),

*interventio (f)

The heading for this tetrad is FFFA. The A reflects the fact that in Ital. there are two different cognates of similar meaning and different gender.

The introduction of the A category makes this article a compendium of gender ambiguity in all four Romance languages here studied.

Additional tetrads are presented which need not display gender disparity; their purpose is to warn of homographs and other items introduced for purposes of comparison. Such tetrads are printed in italics. They appear after the tetrad to which they refer.

Likewise, notes which refer to an entire tetrad, or several, are printed in italics in the body of the text.

Suffixes and other noun endings

Unless otherwise noted, in Port., Span. & Ital.:

  • nouns ending in -a are fem. and
  • nouns ending in -o are masc.

Unless otherwise noted, Latin nouns ending in -a are fem. (or neuter plural); nouns ending in -us are masc., and nouns ending in -um (plural -a) are neuter.

Nonetheless, for purposes of clarity, the gender marker is usually left in, except where space is lacking.

Noun suffixes like the cognates of -ation, -ance, etc. are associated with certain genders in the Romance languages. On the whole the gender pertaining to a given suffix is uniform among all four languages, to wit FFFF or MMMM.Example:


-ação (f) -ación (f) -ation (f) -azione (f) -atio (f) -ation


The causes of gender disparity

There appear to be four main causes of gender disparity among Romance languages. The first three relate to suffixes.

1. Choice of a different suffix associated with another gender:


a referência la referencia la référence il referimento [ratio]   reference

The choice of suffix seems to be influenced by the period in the development of Latin during which the term is accepted into the Romance language in question. Thus, the suffix -mento, which is often preferred to -zione in Ital., seems to have been most popular in Low Latin.

2. Some languages use a suffix and others do not. These are the cases of Lat. caput (FFMM), rete (FFMF) and exterminium (MMFM).

3. One language associates a certain ending with a different gender than the other languages. There one suffix each in Port., Span. and French which is characteristically fem.1, while in the other three languages it is masc., to wit:



-agem (f) -aje (m) -age (m) -aggio (m) -aticum, *-agium -age


a voltagem el voltaje le voltage il voltaggio -- voltage


-ume (m) -umbre (f) -ume (m) -ume (m) various --


o legume la legumbre le légume il legume legume2 (n) vegetable; legume


or (m) or (m) eur (f) ore (m) or (m) or


o licor el licor la liqueur il liquore *liquor (m) liquor (drink)

This refers only to the -eur ending when it is a suffix added to an adjective (chaud - la chaleur). It does not refer to the noun consisting of -eur attached to a verb, which denotes the performer of some action, like professeur or éclaireur. There are certain other nouns ending in -eur which are masc., to wit le bonheur and honneur (m).

4. The fourth explanation does not point to suffixes, but rather to gender drift. In the same way as dialects and languages drift away from each other in terms of meaning of cognates, phonology, vocabulary and grammar, they drift randomly away from each other in the gender of their nouns. Sometimes this is encouraged by the fact that the Latin etymon is of ambiguous gender, as in serpens (m/f) (FFMM) "snake" or margo (m/f) (FAFM) "edge, shore."

The asterisk * before a Latin word means that it is a word from mediaeval Latin, not classical Latin like the others. In some cases the * word exists in classical Latin, but with a different meaning from mediaeval Latin, and it is the latter meaning which is preserved in the cognates.

+ before a word indicates that it is the principal equivalent in that language. Example:

o pavor, [+o medo] el pavor, [+el miedo] la peur la paura pavor (m) fear

The +s mean that in Port. & Span. pavor is not the principal word meaning "fear"; rather it is medo/miedo. However, in French & Ital., the pavor cognates are the principal word meaning "fear."

G marks the genitive of a Latin noun. The genitive is indicated when the Romance cognates appear to be derived from this case.



a ponte el puente le pont il ponte pons (m), G pontis bridge
a viagem el viaje le voyage il viaggio viaticum trip, voyage
a voltagem el voltaje le voltage il voltaggio -- voltage

This is an oft-repeated pattern, since the -agem ending is always fem. in Port., whereas its cognates are always masc. [except for cartilagem (FMMF)].


o pedágio (Br.)

a peagem (Port.)
el peaje le péage il pedaggio [vectigal] toll


o pesadume la pesadumbre la pesanteur pesantezza [gravitas] heaviness
o bando la banda la bande la banda [grex] gang


o/a lhama la llama le lama il lama -- llama (S. American beast)

a chama

la llama

la flamme

la fiamma

flamma (f)


o lama

el lama

le lama

il lama


lama (Buddhist priest)

a lama




lama (f)


a lamina, a [folha]


la lame

la lama,

lamina (f)

blade (of knife/sword)

o leite la leche le lait il latte lac (n), G lactis milk
o massacre, [+a matança] la masacre, [+la matanza] le massacre, [+la strage] il massacro [trucidatio] massacre
o leite la leche le lait il latte lac (n), G lactis milk
o mel la miel le miel il miele mel (n) honey
o nariz la nariz le nez il naso naris (f), nasus, nasum nose
o sangue la sangre le sang il sangue sanguis (m) blood
o sal la sal le sel il sale sal (n) salt
o sinal la señal le signal il segnale signum sign
o espinafre la espinaca épinards (m) i spinaci spinacea spinach
o legume la legumbre le légume il legume3 legume (n) vegetable; legume
o capuz la capucha le capuce il cappuccio [cucullus] hood (over head)
o moral la moral le moral il morale -- morale

a moral

la moral

la moral

la morale


ethics, morals

a moral

la moral

la moral

la morale


moral of a story


a equipe, a equipa el equipo équipe (f) équipe (f), [+la squadra] --- team (of people)
a insônia el insomnio insomnie (f) insonnia (f) insomnia (f) insomnia
a origem el origen origine (f) origine (f) origo (f), G originis origin
a pálpebra el párpado la paupière la palpebra palpebra (f) eyelid
a sentinela el centinela4 la sentinelle la sentinella [custos] sentry
a toupeira el topo la taupe la talpa5 talpa (f) mole (small mammal)
o canalha6 el canalla7 la canaille la canaglia [sclestus] scoundrel
Tunisia (f) Túnez (m) la Tunisie la Tunisia -- Tunisia


o apóstrofo el apóstrofo apostrophe (f) il apostrofo apostrophus apostrophe (punctuation)  
o aspargo, (o espargo el espárrago asperge (f) asparago (m) asparagus asparagus
o clarinete el clarinete la clarinette il clarinetto -- clarinet
o contágio el contagio la contagion il contagio contagium, contagio (f) contagion
o dente el diente la dent il dente dens (m), G dentis tooth
o extermínio el exterminio extermina tion (f) lo sterminio exterminium extermination
o figo el higo la figue il fico ficus (f) fig
o fresco, o afresco el fresco la fresque affresco (m), il fresco (rare) -- fresco (painting)
o armário el armario l'armoire (f) l'armadio (m) armarium8 armoire, wardrobe
o punhado el puñado la poignée il pugno, [manciata] pugnus, [manipulum] handful

o punho

el puño

le poing

il pugno



o punho

empuñadura, el puño

la poignée


manicula, maniglia]

grip (handle)

o punho

el puño

le poignet



cuff (end of sleeve)

o pulso


[le poignet]




o licor el licor la liqueur il liquore *liquor (m) liqueur (drink)

This tetrad (liquor) is but one of dozens of cases in which the Fr. suffix -eur is fem. See Introduction.

o planeta el planeta la planète il pianeta planeta (f) planet
o óleo, [o azeite]9 el óleo,10 [el aceite] huile (f) olio (m) oleum oil

o hectare la hectárea hectare (m) ettaro (m) -- hectare
o absinto el ajenjo absinthe (f) assenzio (m) absinthium wormwood, absinthe
o amuleto el amuleto amulette (f) amuleto (m) amuletum amulet, charm
o anagrama el anagrama anagramme il anagramma -- anagram
o arabesco el arabesco arabesque (f) il (a)rabesco


o ébano el ébano ébène (f) il èbano ebenum ebony
o epigrama el epigrama épigramme (f) il epigramma epigramma epigram, inscription
o epitáfio el epitafio épitaphe (f) il epitaffio epitaphium epitaph
o ídolo el ídolo idole (f) il idolo idolum idol
o idílio el idilio idylle (f) il idillio idyllium idyll
o insulto el insulto insulte (f) insulto (m) [contumelia] insult
o ouvido el oído ouïe (f) udito (m) auditum sense of hearing
o polvo el pulpo la poulpe11, [+la pieuvre] il polpo pulpum octopus
o topázio el topacio la topaze il topazio topazium topaz
o viscondado el vizcondado la vicomté il viscontato -- viscounty
Egito (m) Egipto (m) l'Egypte (f) l'Egitto (m) Aegyptus Egypt
o minuto el minuto la minute il minuto -- minute
o cinturão, o cinto el cinturón, el cinto & la cintura* la ceinture,* le ceinturon il cinturone, il cinto, cinctus belt

All the above words mean "belt"; words marked with * also mean "waist"; words marked & mean only "uniform belt."

o período el periodo, la période12 il periodo periodus period (of time)
o método el método la méthode il metodo methodus method
o ânodo, o anódio el ánodo anode (f) il anodo -- anode
o cátodo, o catódio el cátodo la cathode il catodo -- cathode

Each of the above last four tetrads has a fem. French noun ending in -ode. Note, however, that épisode and exode are both masc.


o êxodo el éxodo exode (m) esodo (m) exodus exodus



o visto la visa, el visado13 le visa il visto -- visa
o açúcar el/la azúcar14 le sucre lo zucchero saccharum sugar


a cifra15 la cifra le chiffre la cifra [numerus] digit
a corrente la corriente le courant la corrente [vis fluminis] current
a aeronave la aeronave aeronef (m) aeronave (f) aero + navis (f) aeroplane  
a idade la edad age (m) età (f) aetas (f), G aetatis age
a anchova,
a enchova, [biqueirão]
la anchoa, [+el boquerón] anchois (m) acciuga (f) apiuva (m) anchovy
a antracite la antracita anthracite (m) antracite (f) -- anthracite
a rede la red le réseau16 la rete rete (n) net, network
a salvação la salvación le salut la salvezza salus (f) salvation
a tíbia la tibia le tibia la tibia tibia (f) tibia, shinbone
a zebra la cebra le zèbre la zebra -- zebra
a apologia la apología apologue (f) apologia (f) apologia (m) defense, eulogy
a epiderme la epidermis épiderme (m) epidermide (f) epidermide (m) epidermis  
a insígnia la insignia insigne (m) insegna (f) insignia (n.pl.) insignia
a libélula la libélula le libelle la libellula -- dragonfly
a mimosa la mimosa le mimosa la mimosa -- mimosa
a orquestra la orquesta orchestre (m) orchestra (f) orchestra17 orchestra
a úlcera la úlcera ulcère (m) ulcera (f) ulcus (n), G ulceris ulcer
a delícia la delicia le délice la delizia deliciae (f.pl) delight, pleasure
a ossatura la osamenta ossements (m.pl) ossatura (f) ossa corporis (n.pl) skeleton?
a prédica la prédica le prêche la predica -- sermon
Dinamarca (f) Dinamarca (f) le Danemark la Danimarca -- Denmark
a raiva la rabia le rage la rabbia rabies (f) rage; rabies
a fênix el fénix le phénix la fenice phoenix (m) phoenix
a moratória la moratoria le moratoire la moratoria -- moratorium
a sauna la sauna
(Mex. el sauna)
le sauna la sauna -- sauna
a águia águila (f) aigle (m) aquila (f) aquila eagle
a sorte la suerte le sort la sorte sors (f), G sortis luck, fate, lot

a sorte, [a espécie, a classe]

la suerte, la clase]+tipo

la sorte, [le genre, le type]

[la specie, genero, tipo]

sors (f), G sortis

sort, kind, type


o ar el aire (m) air (m) aria (f) aer (m) air

a ária

el aria (f), el aire (m)

aria (f), air (m)

aria (f)



o colar el collar le collier la collana18 collare (m) necklace
o verniz el barniz le vernis la vernice -- varnish
+o imposto, [taxa] el impuesto +impôt (m.), [la taxe] +imposto, [tassa] impositum tax
o condado el condado le comté la contea -- county
o domingo el domingo le dimanche la domenica Dominica Sunday
o plástico el plástico le plastique la plastica -- plastic


o chocolate el chocolate le chocolat il cioccolatto, la cioccolatta19 -- chocolate

There follows a group of tetrads dominated by the Italian noun, whose plural is of ambiguous gender: in each case the fem. and plural forms differ in meaning from the masc. plural forms. In general, the fem. pl. forms have the root meaning of the word, while the masc. pl. words have derived meanings. Lat. cornus (MMFA) and cilium (MXMA) belong to the same group.

o braço el brazo le bras il braccio, pl. le braccia/i bracci bracchium arm (limb)
o dedo el dedo le doigt il dito, pl. le dita/i diti digitus finger
o muro el muro le mur il muro, pl. le mura/i muri murus wall


a cômoda la cómoda la commode il comò -- chest of drawers
a flauta la flauta la flûte il flauto [tibia] flute
a flor la flor la fleur il fiore flos (m), G floris flower
a régua la regla la règle il regolo regula ruler (implement)

a regra

la regla

la règle

la regola


rule, regulation

a crina la crin la crinière20 il crine crinis (m) horse's mane
a podridão la podredumbre la pourriture il putridume putor (m) rottenness, rotting material
a traição la traición la trahison il tradimento *traditio (f) treason, betrayal
a médula la médula la moelle il midollo medulla bone marrow
a bactéria la bacteria la bactérie il batterio -- bacterium



intervenção (f) intervention (f) intervención (f) intervento (m), intervenzione (f) *interventio, interventus, intervention
coordenação (f) coordinación (f) coordination (f) coordinamento (m)coordinazione (f)* coordinatio coordination
concentração (f) concentración (f) concentration (f) -- concentrazione (f), concentramento (m)21 -- concentration
a frente la frente le front il/la fronte frons (f), G frontis forehead

o fronte

el frente

le front

il fronte

frons (f)

front (pol., milit.)

a cinza la ceniza la cendre il/la cenere22 cinis (m/f), G cineris ash (cinder)
a marca la marca la marque la marca, il marchio *marca trademark

a marca

la marca

la marque, [le repère]



mark, sign


a cor el color la couleur il colore color (m) color
a pistácea, [alfóstigo] el pistacho la pistache il pistaccio pistacium pistachio



The only entry under this heading is the letters of the alphabet: a, b, c, d ...

o a la a le a la a a A (letter)

However, the word for "letter (of the alphabet) is feminine in all 4 cases:

a letra

la letra

la lettre

la lettera


letter (of the alphabet)

Note that a different root is used in Port. & Span. for "letter, missive."


a carta

la carta

la lettre

la lettera

litterae f.pl., [epistula]

letter, missive


o cigarro el cigarro,23 el cigarrillo la cigarette la sigaretta -- cigarette
o cruzeiro el crucero la croisière la crociera -- cruise
o pez el pez la poix la pece pix (f) tar, pitch

o peixe

el pez, el pescado

le poisson

il pesce

piscis (m)


a pesca

la pesca, la pesquería

la pêche

la pesca



o pêssego

[durazno, el melocotón]

la pêche

la pesca



o prefácio el prefacio la préface la prefazione prefaetio (f) preface
o purê el puré la purée la purea -- purée
o sofrimento el sufrimiento la souffrance la sofferenza [dolor] suffering
o pavor, [+o medo] el pavor, [+el miedo] la peur la paura pavor (m) fear
o êxtase el éxtasis extase (f) estasi (f) *extasis (m) extasis
o oásis el oasis oase (f) oasi (f) -- oasis
o banco el banco la banque la banca -- bank (commercial)


a conta la cuenta le compte il conto computum account (financial)

o conto24

el cuento

le conte

il racconto


story, narrative

o conde

el conde

le compte

il conte


count (aristocrat)

a cabeça25 la cabeza le chef26, [+la tête], , il capo, [+la testa]27 caput (n) head
o cabo el cabo le cap il capo caput (n) cape (geogr.), various meanings
a couve la col, [repollo] le chou il cavolo caulis (m) cabbage
a dúvida la duda le doute il dubbio dubium doubt
a jóia la joya le joyau il gioiello *iocale (n) jewel
a serpente la serpiente le serpent il serpente serpens (m/f) snake
a taxa la tasa le taux il tasso taxa rate, percentage
a taxa, [+imposto]


la taxe, [impôt]

la tassa, [imposta]



[xícara (Br.), chávena (Eur.), a taça28

la taza

la tasse

la tazza



a víscera la víscera le viscère il viscere viscus (n), G visceris inner organ
a afronta la afrenta l'affront (m) il affronto [contumelia] affront, insult
a vacina la vacuna le vaccin il vaccino -- vaccine
a taxa la tasa le taux il tasso [proportio] rate


o costume la costumbre la coutume il costume consuetudo (m) custom, habit  
o alarme la alarma alarme (f) allarme (m) [clamor] alarm


a cartilagem el cartílago le cartilage la cartilagine cartilago (f) cartilage
a asma el asma (f) asthma (m) asma (f) asthma (n) asthma


antípodas (m/f), antípodes (m/f) antípoda (m/f) antipode (m) il antipode -- antipodes


a margem el/la margen29 la marge il margine margo (m/f) edge, margin


o dínamo el/la dinamo30 la dynamo la dinamo -- dynamo, generator


o calor el/la calor31 la chaleur il calore calor (m) heat
o mar el/la mar32 la mer il mare mare (n) sea
a rádio el/la radio33 la radio la radio -- radio

o rádio

el radio

le radium

il ràdio



o rádio

el radio

le radius

il ràdio


radius (anat.)

o rádio, o raio

el radio

le rayon

il raggio


radius (geom.)

o raio

el rayo

le rayon

il raggio, [razza]


spoke (wheel)

o raio

el rayo

le rayon

il raggio


ray, beam

Port. raio and Span. rayo also mean "lightning." French rayon also means "shelf," "department, section," "honeycomb" and "range, scope."

o equívoco. [+erro, engano] el equívoco, la equivocación équivoque (f) [+erreur, faute] equivoco (m), [+errore +sbaglio] *aequivocum mistake [+error]



o dado el dato la donnée il dato, datum datum, pl.
o fim el fin, el final la fin il/la fine34 finis (f) end
o meteorito el meteorito la météorite meteorite (m/f) --   meteorite
o lábio el labio la lèvre il labbro, pl. le labbra labrum, labium lip



a sobrancelha la ceja35 le sourcil il sopracciglio, i sopraccigli, le sopracciglia supercilium eyebrow


o arte el arte, pl. las/los artes art (m) arte (f.) ars (f) art


o renasci mento, a renascença el renacimiento la renaissance la rinascita, il rinascimento [novus ortus] renaissance, rebirth


a ordem el/la orden36 ordre (m) ordine (m) ordo (m) order
a testemunha el/la testigo le témoin il testimone testis (m/f) witness


a partida partido, partida37 partie partita [certamen] game, match


a colher la cuchara le cuiller, la cuillère il cucchiaio cochlearium spoon


a maratona el/la maratón le marathon la maratona -- marathon
a térmite, [o cupim] la termita, el terme, [el comején] le termite la termite termes (m), G termitis termite



o vale el valle la vallée, le val (lit.), le vallon (small valley) la valle vallis (f) valley


a opala el ópalo opale (f) opale (m/f) opalum opal


o til el/la tilde le tilde il/la tilde titulum tilde (~)


o grão el grano le grain, la graine il grano, la grana granum seed, grain


[macaco] el simio, [+el mono] le singe la scimmia simius ape, monkey


o breu, [+ o piche, o alcatrão] la brea, [alquitrán] le brai [+le goudron] [il catrame] -- tar


a lenha la leña [le bois] il legno lignum wood [Port. & Sp. firewood]


a omoplata el omóplato omoplate (f) [scapola] scapula (bone)


a mola el muelle, [el resorte] [le ressort] la molla --- spring (elastic device)



o nácar el nácar la nacre [madreperla] ? mother of pearl
o mosquiteiro el mosquiterola moustiquaire [zanzariera] -- -- -- mosquito netting


[cacho] el bucle la boucle [ricciolo] -- curl


o pesadelo la pesadilla [le cauchemar] [incubo] [tumultuosum somnium] nightmare

o queixume la quejumbre [gémissement] [piagnucolio] [querela] whining


[tâmara] el dátil la datte il dattero *dactylus date (fruit)


o cume [+cima; cúpula] la cumbre [le sommet] il culmine culmen (m) peak, summit


a data [fecha] la date la data,
pl. i dati38
[dies] date


o cílio [pestaña] le cil il ciglio, pl. le ciglia/i cigli cilium eyelash


[carvalho] el roble le rouvre, [+le chêne] il/la rovere, [+la quercia] robur (n), [quercus (f)] oak


o rato la rata le rat [topo] [mus] rat



[trabalho] a lavoura39 la labor, [+trabajo] le labeur40, le labour41 [+le travail] il lavoro labor (m) work



[a manhã] [la mañana] le matin la mattina tempus matutinum morning
-- -- le soir la sera [vesper] evening


Celso Cunha e Lindley Cintra : Breve gramática do português contemporâneo, Ed. João Sá da Costa, Lisboa 1985, pp. 146-151.

Ernesto d'Andrade: Dicionário inverso do português, Ed. Cosmos, Lisboa 1993, pp.306-309.

Ignacio Bosque y Manuel Pérez Fernández: Diccionario inverso de la lengua española, Ed. Gredos, Madrid 1987, passim.

Maurice Grevisse: Correct French. A Practical Guide, Barron's, Woodbury (NY) 1982, pp. 119-122.

Léon Warnant: Dictionnaire des rimes orales et écrites, Larousse, Paris 1992, pp. 455-467.

Maurizio Dardano e Pietro Trifone : La lingua italiana, Zanichelli, Bologna 1985, pp. 103-110, 117-119.

Emilio Renzi: Rimario pratico della lingua italiana d'oggi, Rizzoli, Milano 1990, passim.

Standard unilingual and bilingual dictionaries.


1 This preference for a given gender can be explained by 4.

2 It. legume is something of a false cognate: it means "pod; legumes, pulses [beans, peas, etc.], whereas its cognates mean principally "vegetable" in general.

3 It. legume is something of a false cognate: it means "pod; legumes, pulses [beans, peas, etc.], whereas its cognates mean principally "vegetable" in general.

4 If the sentry is a woman, la centinela is used.

5 Ital. il topo exists, but means "rat."

6 Port. la canalla, if the person in question is female.

7 Analogously to Span. centinela, it is possible to say la canalla, if the person in question is female.

8 Lat. armarium actually means "cupboard for weapons."

9 Port. óleo means any oil except petroleum and olive oil (Europe) or edible oil (Brazil); "petroleum" is petróleo and azeite is "olive oil" (Europe) or "edible oil" (Brazil).

10 Span. óleo means only oil paints and holy oil; "petroleum" is petróleo and all other oils are aceite.

11 Fr. la poulpe is a culinary term.

12 Fr. le période (rare) also exists with a different meaning.

13 Some Span.-speaking countries use visa, others visado.

14 Span. azúcar is usually masc.; only in writing is it considered fem.

15 Port. cifra is not an exact equivalent of its cognates, since it means "amount," not "digit."

16 Réseau is masculine no doubt because it is descended from the diminutive reticulum, instead of directly from rete. as are the other three cognates.

17 Lat. orchestra does not mean "orchestra" in the sense of a group of musicians, but only a part of a theatre. Latin for "orchestra" is symphonia.

18 Ital. il collare exists, meaning "choker."

19 Ital. cioccolata often means "cocoa" (a chocolate drink).

20 French le crin means "horse hair" (used for stuffing furniture).

21 Ital. concentrazione is the general term, and concentramento is used for "concentration camp" and "troop concentration."

22 Ital. cenere is fem. when it means "ashes" and masc. when it means "mortal remains."

23 In most Span.-speaking countries cigarro means cigarette, but in S. South America it can mean "cigar."

24 Port. o conto means (in addition to "story") also "one thousand escudos."

25 port. cabeça and Sp. cabeza are derived from the Lat. *capitia derived in turn from caput..

26 French chef and Ital. capo have ceased to mean "human head" and have various derived meanings.

27 Curiously enough, the modern Span. false cognate of Fr. tête and It. testa is el tiesto, which means "flower pot."

28 Port. a taça means "trophy cup."

29 Usually Span. margen is masc., except when it means "river-bank."

30 The gender of Span. dinamo (also pronounced dínamo) depends on the country.

31 Span. calor is usually masc. Treating it as feminine is usually rustic or dialectal.

32 Span. mar is usually masc. Only poets and sailors treat is as fem. However, the plural is always masc.

33 The gender of Span. radio depends on the country of origin of the speaker, but in both Spanish and Portuguese the masc. form is normally used for the apparatus, while the feminine denotes the station.

34 Ital. il fine means "purpose" and la fine means "conclusion."

35 Span. ceja is derived not from Lat. supercilium but from Lat. cilia, pl. of cilium, "eyebrow."

36 Span. orden is masc. when it means "arrangement" and fem. when it means "command" or "military order."

37 Sp. la partida is applied to games of chess and other board games, whereas el partido applies to sports. El partido also means "political party."

38 See note 7.

39 Port. a lavoura means "ploughing" or "farm."

40 Fr. la labour is a literary term for "work."

41 Fr. le labour means "plowing" (US) or "ploughing" (GB).